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Leaders of the pack display high EQ, Rotman study finds

September 21, 2010

TORONTO, ON – The abil­i­ty to under­stand emo­tions is a key ingre­di­ent in peo­ple who become lead­ers in groups with no for­mal author­i­ty, a new paper has found.

The find­ings come through two dif­fer­ent stud­ies using com­merce stu­dents. Study par­tic­i­pants were giv­en an emo­tion­al abil­i­ty test as part of the study, as well as a self-analy­sis of their emo­tion­al skills. Then, they orga­nized them­selves into small groups or were ran­dom­ly assigned to small groups and were giv­en a group project to do.

At the end of the project they were asked to iden­ti­fy whom they thought had shown the great­est lead­er­ship. Those iden­ti­fied by their peers as lead­ers scored high on the emo­tion­al abil­i­ty test, which includ­ed tasks such as iden­ti­fy­ing emo­tions in faces in a pho­to­graph, and rat­ing the effec­tive­ness of dif­fer­ent emo­tion reg­u­la­tion strate­gies. People’s per­cep­tions of their own emo­tion­al skills, how­ev­er, did not pre­dict lead­er­ship as reli­ably.

The study adds to evi­dence that emo­tion­al intel­li­gence is a sep­a­rate trait from oth­er lead­er­ship qual­i­ties such as hav­ing cog­ni­tive intel­li­gence and being coop­er­a­tive, open to ideas, and con­sci­en­tious.

“Tra­di­tion­al­ly we’ve had the assump­tion that lead­ers have high IQ, are gre­gar­i­ous indi­vid­u­als, or hap­pen to be dom­i­nant per­son­al­i­ties,” says researcher Stéphane Côté, a pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toronto’s Rot­man School of Man­age­ment and one of four researchers involved with the study.

“But this shows it’s not just about these tra­di­tion­al fac­tors,” says Prof. Côté. “It’s also about being able to process oth­er people’s emo­tions. Any­body who wants to pur­sue a posi­tion of lead­er­ship and pow­er can ben­e­fit from these abil­i­ties.”

The study was pub­lished In the June 2010 issue of Lead­er­ship Quar­ter­ly and was co-authored by Paulo N. Lopes of the Catholic Uni­ver­si­ty of Por­tu­gal, Peter Salovey of Yale Uni­ver­si­ty, and Christo­pher T.H. Min­ers of Queen’s Uni­ver­si­ty.

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The Rot­man School of Man­age­ment at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to is redesign­ing busi­ness edu­ca­tion for the 21st cen­tu­ry with a cur­ricu­lum based on Inte­gra­tive Think­ing. Locat­ed in the world’s most diverse city, the Rot­man School fos­ters a new way to think that enables the design of cre­ative busi­ness solu­tions. The School is cur­rent­ly rais­ing $200 mil­lion to ensure Cana­da has the world-class busi­ness school it deserves. For more infor­ma­tion, vis­it


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Rot­man School of Man­age­ment
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